GPS Gets Sued in Federal Court for Discriminatory Hiring Practices

Here’s a wild prediction: the GPS governing board is going to be asked to approve Christina Kishimoto’s selected acolyte to be principal of Highland Junior High School. That’s not too much of a stretch: the position was open for applications for quite a long time, there’s an unusual situation with an interim principal and the job announcement disappeared from GPS job listings online. Westie’s going to take bets, though, on whether or not the GPS governing board has been told that the district is in the middle of yet another discrimination lawsuit, this time about hiring practices that center on Highland Junior High School. What a coincidence!

Today’s post is about GPS being a defendant in federal court AGAIN; you can read the Complaint here. It’s another nasty story about GPS Top Dogs behaving like they’re Masters of the Universe. There is lore about the famous GPS Loose Zipper Brigade. Those administrators are just Legends in their Own Minds, including Christina Kishimoto, and they’re going to be mad as hell with Westie for spilling the beans. Mind you, they’re not necessarily mad at themselves for the morals and ethics they display in their employment with the district, they only care when they get caught with their zippers down engaging in behavior that violates district policies. We all know those administrators don’t give a flying flip about laws.

HEY NEW BOARD MEMBERS: it’s not difficult to know about all the lawsuits in which GPS is a defendant. All it takes is a PACER account for federal court cases and a survey of lawsuits listed in the Maricopa Superior Court for state law litigation. You probably thought the GPS superintendent would tell you about important matters like GPS being sued or being investigated by federal agencies. As usual, you might have been wrong in expecting professionalism from GPS Top Dogs.

Historically, GPS superintendents have not liked it when board members know about litigation, or inquiries from the Federal Government, such as Department of Justice or the Office for Civil Rights or the Internal Revenue Service. But litigation against GPS is happening again. This time you new board members might have a chance to head off a major complication for GPS defense, especially if it’s the same illegal behavior that brought the EEOC into the picture several years ago. What are the chances that GPS current hiring practices are clean as a whistle? When was the last time the superintendent’s hands were clean?

Christina Kishimoto appears to be doing the same stupid stuff that got the district in trouble with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and led to this lawsuit. The EEOC told the district they were violating civil rights laws. The EEOC investigated charges of age and sex discrimination and found probable cause to believe that GPS violated federal laws. Worse, the EEOC investigated and determined that the GPS administration engaged in retaliation after the charges were filed with the EEOC. Some of this happened during Christina Kishimoto’s reign as superintendent; board members need to know if the same behavior continues today. They won’t find out by just asking the superintendent.

You would think that GPS superintendent Christina Kishimoto would be following GPS policies and federal civil rights laws TO THE LETTER as she hires new employees, knowing that the district is defending this civil rights lawsuit about illegal hiring practices. You could be wrong. But don’t take it from Westie, new board members. Don’t accept Christina Kishimoto’s usual double-speak and rationalizations about what is happening in GPS right now. You’ve already been burned by the superintendent’s pattern and practice of untruthfulness, even when you asked her a direct question. The community has eyes and ears, so we all know.

Salient facts in the complaint that started this lawsuit sound nasty, but all too familiar:

84. On or about September 11, 2015, the EEOC, after considering all the evidence obtained during its investigation, found that there is reasonable cause to believe that Gilbert Public Schools violated Title VII when it did not select McCoy and other applicants because of their age and/or sex.

85. On or about July 27, 2015 McCoy was contacted by the EEOC and asked to file an amended charge with the EEOC including Title VII sex discrimination and retaliation, Charge No. 540-2013-00755, alleging that GPS, among other things, violated Title VII when it retaliated against her for filing EEOC charges.

86. In EEOC Charge No. 540-2013-00755, McCoy alleged the retaliation consisted of: not allowing her to participate in recruitment and selection of employees; shunning her from sitting on various committees; denying her the opportunity to compete and be interviewed for available Principal positions; and issuing her a poor performance evaluation.

87. On or about September 11, 2015, the EEOC, after considering all the evidence obtained during its investigation, found that there is reasonable cause to believe that Gilbert Public Schools violated Title VII when it retaliated against McCoy for engaging in protected activity by denying her the opportunity to compete and be considered for available Principal positions and by issuing her lower rating on her performance.

HEY NEW BOARD MEMBERS: you most likely need your own attorney … soon. If Christina Kishimoto hires a lawyer and tells you that person is *the board’s lawyer,* tread very carefully. Same trepidation if Kishmoto calls in The Trust attorneys who are defending the lawsuit; they represent The Trust, not the governing board. You need an attorney who isn’t conflicted with other loyalties to the education power structure in Arizona. Remember, Westie is not a lawyer, but we know some good lawyers!

This post should make you realize that your interests as board members most likely are not the same as the superintendent’s interests. That’s especially true if the superintendent has violated district policy in even the smallest way with hiring a new principal for Highland Junior High School. Or with who wasn’t hired. Or with who was or wasn’t interviewed for the position. Or whether those interviewers were captives of the superintendent. Or whether genuine records were kept of the interviews. Questions abound!

The hinkiness goes back a year, when Christina Kishimoto promoted the HJHS principal to district staff, knowing there would be a vacancy to fill at HJHS.  Don’t you wonder why Kishimoto installed an *interim* principal for the 2016-2017 school year? That wasn’t standard procedure then. What’s happened since hasn’t looked any better. Who knows … maybe all those back-room policy committee meetings surreptitiously changed relevant GPS policies so Christina Kishimoto could slide this bit of sleaziness under the rug. That GPS rug sure is lumpy, but now it’s yours, new board members!

GPS has been in turmoil in recent weeks, and the superintendent’s moral character is again a major topic of discussion in the community about her ability to lead the district. If the governing board hires a new principal for Highland Junior High School without ascertaining there is not a scintilla of retaliation or impropriety in the entire hiring process, another school might be compromised. We all know how Christina Kishimoto loves to talk about processes, especially when she’s on the defensive. Let her explain her hiring processes to someone who won’t be distracted by mumbo-jumbo, someone who truly has the district’s best interests at the forefront. Wouldn’t that be refreshing?

It’s not just Kishimoto, it’s the governing board and the school district who are actual DEFENDANTS in court again. You can choose to go ahead and let Christina Kishimoto do what she wants to do, regardless of GPS policy, regardless of law. Go ahead at your own peril. She was counting on you to be in the dark about all of this. Most likely, she planned to present you with a done deal and get your blessing on her perfidy before you had a chance to ask about any of the details. Sure, you can trust her.

Hey Birdies: Brian Yee plays a starring role in this lawsuit! New board members: why do you think GPS (then under superintendent Dave Allison) stashed Brian Yee at Greenfield Junior High School? He must have known his publicly humiliating escapades could be the source of litigation against the district for years. It looks like Good Old Dave was right.

The lawsuit shows Shane McCord’s *Gut Check* hiring decisions are still haunting GPS, as well. The old dirty laundry will be aired again. It’s not like GPS leadership has been a model of moral behavior recently, either, so pass the popcorn!

Circling back to the recent turmoil in GPS: Christina Kishimoto is no stranger to being sued for bad personnel decisions. One of the cases still causing problems for Hartford Schools is about a person Christina Kishimoto had promoted after major controversy and disciplinary action over sexual misconduct:

The mother of a 13-year-old girl who police say received sexual text messages from a longtime Hartford school administrator is suing the school system, top school officials and the city of Hartford over alleged negligence in the case.  A major allegation in the complaint is that the city and the school system allowed Genao, a career educator who worked for the district since 2005, to prey on the girl despite years-old claims that he sent inappropriate electronic messages to a female student and an employee when he was principal of Sport and Medical Sciences Academy. “The city knew or should have known that they had a very dangerous person in their mix,” Spinella said Thursday. “They didn’t red flag him, they promoted him.”

Citizens of Gilbert, Arizona wonder why GPS keeps dangerous persons in the district. In the case of the current civil rights lawsuit, the person who is the biggest danger to GPS might be the superintendent who can’t or won’t follow the law. Citizens are wondering if the superintendent’s immoral behavior in her *alleged* inappropriate relationship with her subordinate Executive Director of Technology gave a subliminal (or actual) green light to other GPS employees to indulge in immoral and/or illegal behavior. Westie thinks the dots are quite connectable, and this question will arise whenever ethics are violated by any GPS employee, as long as Christina Kishimoto is superintendent.

You know Westie will closely watching this lawsuit through court records. As ever, Westie loves to share, and will post observations gleaned from long experience with GPS defending lawsuits and the same old attorneys that The Trust hires. This time, birdies, there will be LOTS of chocolate and back stories. Chirp, chirp!

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